From poverty to prosperity
comments
Monday, Oct. 21, 2013

From poverty to prosperity

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/18/11/45/alQyR.Em.138.jpeg|210
    - COURTESY SCOTT HIMES
    Central Cabarrus forward Belony Joseph (24) battles with a Hickory Ridge defender for control of the ball during a recent South Piedmont 3A match. Joseph emigrated to the United States after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/18/11/45/i1Ucb.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - JOE HABINA
    Central Cabarrus boys soccer player Belony Joseph emigrated to the United States after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/18/11/45/10qQQE.Em.138.jpeg|215
    - COURTESY OF SCOTT HIMES
    Central Cabarrus forward Belony Joseph (24) celebrates with teammate Jonathon Arellano (14) after scoring a goal in a match against Jay M. Robinson on Sept. 19, 2013. Joseph emigrated to the United States after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/18/11/45/SlkK.Em.138.jpeg|421
    - JOE HABINA
    Central Cabarrus boys soccer player Belony Joseph emigrated to the United States after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/18/11/45/m2nHL.Em.138.jpeg|421
    - JOE HABINA
    Central Cabarrus boys soccer player Belony Joseph emigrated to the United States after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/18/11/45/FEOcj.Em.138.jpeg|312
    - COURTESY OF SCOTT HIMES
    Central Cabarrus forward Belony Joseph (24) drives the ball downfield during a match against Concord. Joseph emigrated to the United States after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/18/11/45/lTwqu.Em.138.jpeg|250
    - COURTESY OF SCOTT HIMES
    Central Cabarrus forward Belony Joseph (24) looks to pass while under pressure from a Concord defender during a recent South Piedmont 3A match. Joseph emigrated to the United States after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/18/11/45/8XKl6.Em.138.jpeg|500
    - COURTESY OF SCOTT HIMES
    Central Cabarrus forward Belony Joseph (24) readies a shot during a recent South Piedmont 3A match against Hickory Ridge. Joseph emigrated to the United States after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Belony (pronounced “Bell-uh-nee”) Joseph lived under some of the most deplorable conditions while growing up in northern Haiti.

Joseph, his mother and two brothers lived in a home with no electricity or running water. They ate only the food they grew, and washing clothes was a chore they shared every week or two in a nearby river.

Joseph came to the U.S. in 2010, without the other members of his family, and moved in with acquaintances Samuel and Claudette Danjoint of Concord. Now, there is one aspect of American life that the Central Cabarrus senior is most appreciative of -- the opportunity to play high school soccer.

Joseph, who turns 19 on Oct. 27, would love nothing more than to play college soccer. With four goals and six assists, the center midfielder is having an all-conference type season.

But even if he never plays another soccer game after high school, Joseph still wants to attend college. His long-term goal is to return to Haiti with a degree in the medical profession, he says, to give other Haitian children hope.

Joseph lives with the Danjoints, their daughter Djenie, 26, and their sons Miche’, 16, and Marc, 15, who both attend Central Cabarrus. Samuel, Claudette, and Djenie first met Joseph on a mission trip to Haiti in 2005.

Joseph remembers the day the Danjoints and others on the mission trip visited his hometown of Perche. They were the first Americans he ever saw.

“(Life) is not easy there,” Joseph said. “Most don’t have jobs. People live off nature. It is difficult in some ways, but we found ways to have fun. We used to swim in the river.”

Having played soccer ever since he can remember, Joseph played on the dirt fields of Perche using “anything round you could kick” as a ball. The roundest most readily available object he and his friends could find was often an orange -- the fruit.

As many Haitian children born into poverty do, Joseph left his mother and older brothers to live in the more suitable accommodations of an orphanage. Inspired by the missionaries who visited his country, Joseph often led his fellow residents in Christian services and at one time aspired to be a preacher.

When an earthquake ravaged Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, in January 2010, the orphanage remained mostly intact. However, the circumstances of the aftermath made it easier for Haitians to immigrate to the United States.

Joseph moved in with a family in Texas but when “it didn’t work out,” Claudette Danjoint said, she and her husband (a native Haitian), offered during the summer of 2010 to let Joseph move in.

The Danjoints, who operate a Haiti advocacy nonprofit organization called Carolinas Outreach to Haiti, helped Joseph get his green card.

Joseph enrolled at Central Cabarrus. His native language is Creole, so he had to attend English as a second language classes. He says it took him about a year to master his new language.

His former home is over 1,200 miles away, but Joseph made a return visit in the summer of 2012. He says he talks with his mom on the phone every one or two months.

There have been other adjustments.

Joseph had to make to get acclimated to American food, culture, and climate. He’s had very little difficulty adjusting to some new luxuries like playing video games and taking extra-long showers.

Joseph has played on the Central Cabarrus varsity soccer team since his sophomore season. He has developed a reputation for his ability to play multiple positions. This season, Joseph has played forward and center-back before settling in at center-midfield.

“He plays wherever I ask him to play with 100 percent effort and heart,” Vikings head coach Michael Dye said. “He’s an all-around team player. He’s really developing into not just a scorer but a passer and distributor.”

Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at joehabina@yahoo.com.

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more